Bulgaria: The Figure Of The Producer And The Different Meanings Of The Concept

Last Updated: 20 March 2018
Article by Petko Angelov and Yoanna Ivanova

The concept of the Producer under the current Bulgarian legislation includes several different understandings that tend to lead to practical difficulties arising with regards to determining the rights and obligations of the different types of Producers, as well as in the distribution of rights and obligations among the other participants in the process of creating and realising the different kinds of audiovisual work, and in the liability of the Producer to third parties.

The figure of the Producer is regulated in detail in the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (CNRA) according to which a Producer is a natural or a legal person who organizes the production of the work and provides its financing.

The authors conclude with the producers written contracts that, unless agreed upon otherwise, grant producers the exclusive right to reproduce, show publicly, broadcast by wireless, or retransmitted by cable, reproduce and distribute on video media, offer by wireless media or by cable access to an unlimited number of persons thereto or to a part thereof in a manner allowing that access to be achieved from a location and at a time individually chosen thereby, as well as the right to authorize translation, dubbing and subtitling of the work within the country and abroad.

Whenever any of the authors refuses to complete his part of the film or other audio-visual work, or fails to do so through no fault of his, he cannot prevent the use of the work already completed by him for the completion of the whole project.

The producer may grant to third parties, as long as he assumes the obligation of providing a fair compensation for each type of use of the film or audio-visual work, the right to wireless broadcast of the work or to transmit and retransmit it via the electronic transmission network and to ensure electronic access, to reproduce it on all types of carriers, such as video media for distribution and public showing, however he is obliged to inform the authors in writing within one month.

At the request of the director, the author of the screenplay and the director of photography, the producer is obliged to provide at least once a year a statement on the revenues collected from each type of use of the work. The Producer may use parts of the work or individual frames in such volume as is necessary for advertising the film without seeking the consent of the authors and without providing compensation to them. He may use such parts or frames for other purposes only with the consent of the authors and so long as he pays a compensation to them.

According to the additional provisions of the Film Industry Act (FIA) a Producer is a person who initiates and organizes the materialization of the film on their own behalf, provides the funds and other conditions needed for that purpose.

The term was also defined in the previous Radio and Television Act (RTA) – now repealed – under which a Producer of a radio or television broadcast was a natural or a legal person, who organizes the production of the work and provides its financing. The Co-producers are two or more persons who jointly organise the creation and provide the financing of the show.

The Executive Producer is a person who on the grounds of a contractual relationship with the provider of the media service organizes the creation of a show – internal production of the media service provider. A delegated Producer is a person, who is an employee of the television, working jointly with the executive producer and co-producer when creating the work

An external producer to a given radio-television broadcasting organization, is a person who is not an employee of that organization, spouse or lineal relative of members of the managing board of this organization or a person connected to the organization. The legislation regulates a limit of two productions that can be provided simultaneously by the external producer to one operator.

The different meanings put in the term Producer and the lack of clear regulation on the responsibilities, lead to numerous practical problems and require the Bulgarian legislator to implement clear rules accounting for the current dynamic market conditions and the constant development of the audio-visual services.

On the one hand the liability towards third parties in television productions ought to be distributed according to the type of production, keeping in mind the above described Producer types, when creating a production by an independent Producer, the liability regarding claims by third parties, participants in the work, or others, should be borne by the Producer.

In the case of co-production – the liability should be shared jointly.

If the television assigns the audio-visual work to the executive producer, it should bear the liability for all claims made by third parties, because in reality the executive producers possess no rights over the product.

The restriction on the external producer to provide no more than two external productions to one operator simultaneously does not correspond to the current market conditions and should be abandoned.

In addition, the current combination of radio and television production should be considered as unacceptable, as it requires the creation of general rules applying to fundamentally different, in way of expressing, media services.

The Association of television producers /ATP/ support the full liberalization of the regulation of the radio programs and the focusing of efforts on the regulation of television productions. They also consider that in the field of television production, the Association could take on the role of a self-regulator of the producer community by adopting ethical codes which would distinguish between the legal and the editorial responsibilities, as well as by establishing a compulsory membership in the ATP, which may adopt backed by sanctions mandatory rules for television producers.

Either way, the work regarding the refinement of the regulation of the Producer is yet to start.

Originally published by Media Law International.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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